(JTA) — Convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk reportedly was buried in secret in an undisclosed location in the United States.
The news that Demjanjuk was buried on March 31, two weeks after he died in a German nursing home, was disclosed Tuesday by Rostyslav Novozhenets, deputy head of the Ukrainian Republican Party, in an interview with the Ukrainian News website. Demjanjuk was a Ukraine native.
Novozhenets said he learned of the burial from Demjanjuk’s son, John Jr., in an email. Demjanjuk’s son asked Novozhenets not to disclose the location of his father’s grave.
"Jewish organizations are already interested in it," Novozhenets told the website. "They cannot calm down because, in fact, they failed to convict John Demjanjuk. Obviously they want now to desecrate the grave."
The funeral reportedly was attended by family, Demjanjuk’s German attorney Ulrich Busch, and attorneys from the U.S. who defended Demjanjuk during his extradition and denaturalization trials.
A German funeral home reportedly said days after Demjanjuk’s death that his body would be returned to his home community of Seven Hills, a Cleveland suburb. The U.S. Consulate in Munich confirmed that Demjanjuk’s body was being returned to his family, according to reports.
The Associated Press reported that Jewish leaders are concerned that a Demjanjuk gravesite in the United States could become a shrine to neo-Nazis.
Demjanjuk died at the age of 91 in an old-age home in southern Germany, where he was free while he appealed his conviction last year by a Munich court for his role in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland.
Born and raised in Ukraine, Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States following World War II. In 1986 he was sent to Israel to face trial on charges of being the notorious Treblinka guard "Ivan the Terrible." An Israeli court sentenced Demjanjuk to death, but the Israeli Supreme Court ordered him released due to reasonable doubt while noting that substantial evidence emerged during the trial identifying him as a guard at Sobibor.
Demjanjuk returned to suburban Cleveland in 1993 and resisted multiple attempts to strip him of his citizenship and deport him again. But he lost that battle in 2009, and U.S. authorities deported him to Germany. Last May he was convicted for his crimes in Sobibor, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.